On July 19, Nicaragua’s ruling FSLN party, led by President Daniel Ortega, gathered at Plaza La Fe in the capital city of Managua to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the successful Sandinista Revolution and the fall of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.
The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front), or FSLN, is today the leading social democratic party in Nicaragua. The political body, however, has its roots in a military movement that surfaced in 1962 to overthrow U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza DeBayle.
The Sandinistas took their name from General Augusto C. Sandino, a national hero who led an army of farmers and workers against an armed U.S. intervention in the late 1920s and early 30s. Sandino’s forces were able to outlast the U.S. Marines, but the general was betrayed and killed soon after in what he hoped would be a peace negotiation with Anastacio Somoza García, the military strongman left in charge by the Marines and the father of Anastasio Somoza DeBayle.
The Sandinistas and the FSLN are part of the leftist, anti-imperialist front in Latin America, which includes the likes of Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba and Venezuela’s recently deceased Hugo Chavez. The Castro brothers sent their greetings to the Nicaraguan people on the revolution’s anniversary and lauded the country as “an irreversible stronghold of the anti-imperialist fight.”
Cuban Vice President Ramiro Valdes was present at the celebration in Managua, in the company of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador and President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras. The Guatemalan human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu also attended the ceremony.
In a dramatic turn of events, the celebrations on July 19 ended in bloodshed as armed gangs claiming to be “contras,” the U.S. supported counterrevolutionary forces that took up arms against the Sandinista government after the 1979 revolution, ambushed bus caravans carrying party supporters home from the anniversary celebration.
Five people were killed and 25 wounded in two separate but seemingly coordinated attacks. FSLN officials have called the attacks “a terrorist act.” These troubling developments surrounding the Nicaraguan Revolution’s 35th anniversary reveal the heated political climate and rampant violence that still causes so much suffering in Nicaragua and throughout the Central American region.
– Kayla Strickland
Sources: Christian Science Monitor, ViaNica, La Prensa, Escambray
Photo: Counter PsyOps